Recently, there was a television "presentation" dealing with how Stephan Curry has elevated his skill levels. Amazing probably falls short of describing what was presented and the process is fundamentally sound. In addition, the value of using unique, precise repetitions struck a familiar, harmonious chord.  However, the importance of perfect practice is not new. 

The recent relationship development in sports involving  "Analytics" suggests the potential for applications in skill enhancement when training retrievers. There is a  technique for improvement called "Skill Gap Analytics". As that relates to training retrievers (and trainers) the specific phrasing may be described somewhat by the following.

Initially, a skill gap analysis  would involve listing and defining the present experience, skills and performance levels followed by comparing/contrasting  those with the desired levels. Comparing means how are they similar as opposed to contrasting which deals with how they are different. 

The degree of difficulty increases significantly when the process of collecting data to define the Skill Gap Analytics potential includes two "gaps" - trainer and retriever. 

After identifying (collecting data), a teaching trainer should develop a flexible plan to
reduce identified  "gaps". An approach based on establishing realistic priorities is paramount.

When issues seem overwhelming "brainstorming" and the concept  of  "there is no rush" make it much easier. It takes as long as it takes.

There is  generally only one rule for brainstorming. No "idea" is wrong which means it is OK to be "way out in left field" because in the end you will recognize what is out there
and "avoid going there". A strong mentor is often necessary to channel perspectives.  Perspective is everything. 

      Here is a list (examples).

     PART I
     dogs thrive on correct repetitions with sequential structure
     well established skills are not unlike an automatic reflex
     automatic responses require many correct repetitions (practice)
     the definition of many is elusive and often woefully inadequate
     re-enforcement is a useful tool that comes in many forms


     Part II

     making a mistake requires doing that skill ten times correctly to get back to even
     instincts can be cool (not always)
     rewards can be powerful motivators (use wisely)
     catalysts and inhibitors will impact the rate of a reaction (identify both)
     awareness is not a given skill....work at being proactive (define how)
     progress is often not easy......one step at a time is the beginning and
              honest, precise "measuring" is necessary - keep a journal

     Part III
     Training should be fun, exciting and rewarding

     Part IV
     it takes two to communicate - trust is a two-way street
     being seamless requires constant planning
     learning is a great deal more effective when "doing"......correctly    
            Plan Ahead!
     balance is an ongoing process


              Pounce is following Bill Hillmann's retriever training program.

                 The “Balanced Retriever” Training Program by Bill Hillmann
                       Teach and Practice……a positive way to total Success


         "Balance in a retriever consists of five factors - retrieving, "birdiness",
       focus, control and responsiveness."
  Julie Knutson (pro trainer & author)


 
       The Five Factors are ideal for an initial "skill gap" analysis.


Balance Is the Key for Success

        "Balance in a retriever consists of five factors - retrieving, "birdiness",
      focus, control and responsiveness."  Julie Knutson (pro trainer & author)

Initially, a skill gap analysis  would involve listing and defining the present experience, in terms of skills and performance levels followed by comparing and contrasting  those with the desired levels. Comparing means how are they similar as opposed to contrasting which deals with how they are different. 

The degree of difficulty increases significantly when the process of collecting data to define the Skill Gap Analytics potential includes two "gaps" - trainer and retriever. 

                        
  Pounce and KwickLabs' Skills Gap Analyses

   Pounce’s present experience and needs, in terms of skills and performance levels

performance level - AKC Senior Title - late next spring ready to run AKC Master tests
retrieving        strong instincts - driven to retrieve; willingly presents whatever
                        is retrieved; once-in-a-while lets go before trainer has a hold, being
                        small, she sometimes steps/stumbles over bumper ropes or hanging
                        parts of birds (does not seem to bother her), she is very,very fast and
                        is a pin point marker, her penchant to cheat water is decreasing
"birdiness"     superb nose, birds are high on her list, driven, willing  to “give up”
                        and present at the line (best I have ever had)
focus              intense focus always…….at times not on the right things at the line
                        memory excellent, distance is never an issue
control           drive at the line can go over the top, on blinds she is a complete
                        player, sits on every whistle and waits for the cast, no refusals,  
                        takes great initial lines, carries them fast and always turns the right
                        way when sat…very good in the holding blind....issues - going to the
                        line and walk-ups

responsiveness   out in the field - extremely good……at the line – improving
                             
   KwickLabs' present experience and needs (in terms of skills and performance levels)

training – 1) been at it for over twenty years, 2) trained all five retrievers to AKC Senior titles (no washes), 3) know what I am doing, but get nervous at the line  (not “In the saddle” nearly often enough), 4) hunted waterfowl and upland (a lot), 5) 77 years old.

      Once this was written down, the issues were in black and blue (pun intended).
      The solutions were clarified. Pounce needed to learn how to heel properly and
      then I would have much less to worry about.        We have been officially "doing" 
      Hillmann's Heeling Program since September 22, 2017. Good "stuff"!!

Update: late January '18.....after viewing Hillmann's most recent DVD release "The Game", the connection between the five factors was greatly enhanced. For many years, the process of developing consistent, predictable/reliable control, focus and responsiveness remained elusive. After three years of "working" Hillmann's program, his approach  has been gradually understood and it is working quite well with Pounce.


A great mentor has made a huge difference. A few days ago, the most recent video from Hillmann was released - "The Game". The "stars" of the production are my mentor, Jim Wegner and his "pack" of  Goldens. With this new visual insight, a  better perception of how "The Game" is used to maintain balance and provide instant feedback for the next step(s) in training. The bonus? it is fun! 

I should mention that the last scene in the video is absolutely spectacular!  

Thinking Outside the Box

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